Pssst! C’mere, I have a little secret…
Not all hippie music is bad.
Sure, I’d rather eat a box full of rotted tacks than subject my ears to Phish, but as is often the case with any particular genre, there are some true gems to be discovered once you dive below the mainstream.
Now, take a look at the album cover for Euphoria up there. That’s the silhouette of dandelion fuzz being gently blown away by a breeze. True, that doesn’t equate to HEAVY, at least in a metal sense. And nope, no amount of umlauts could make Dead Man metal, but their brand of folky/hippie retro-rock is put together so smartly, I’d go so far as to say this record is brilliant – a current contender for my fagorite non-metal offering of 2008.
What the hell’s in Sweden’s water that’s causing all these retro-rock outfits to crop up so… healthily? Witchcraft, Burning Saviours and Graveyard: all Swedish bands that have made a nice name for themselves amongst the more open-minded metal fans, and with those with a strong interest in the roots of heavy rock that lead to our fair genre.
But to simply call Dead Man a retro-rock band isn’t terribly accurate. Yes, there are plenty of moments where you’ll hear that warm, familiar “proto-doom” guitar tone in the riffing and soloing, but Dead Man swirl a wealth of breezy, blithe, feel-good folk in this now well-traveled path, and that makes them unique.
Euphoria isn’t quite all retro and peppy, however. Album opener, “Today”, and the upbeat “I Must Be Blind” have an interesting Beck-ish flavor to their approach, and “Light Vast Corridors” also sports a fresh sort of “indie” feel that plants a firm foot in the 21st century. And a healthy measure of darkness permeates the crux of “Footsteps,” the wicked 9-minute opus, “The Wheel,” and the twitsting “Rest in Piece,” amplified by generous use of traditional fiddle and flute.
But again, the true selling point of the record is its insistence on turning listeners’ frowns upside-down – a welcome change for those of us who spend a wealth of our time listening to extreme music of a more negative vibe.
Euphoria will be an essential part of my rotation as the carefree days of summer approach. Every tune presented is strong enough to stand on its own, and the production is clear enough to pick out a wealth of enjoyable nuances as this fine work slowly begins to set root. Be careful, though, folks might begin to realize there’s a softer side to you if you crank this album as much as I have the last couple weeks.